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How ‘Legs of Steel’ helped Alex Yee’s route towards Olympic glory

Ride the 2023 Surrey Legs of Steel sportive, and support the fund which helped Alex Yee on his journey to Olympic gold...

Chief Correspondent
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The pathway to sporting success is never an easy one. And in an endurance sport like triathlon, with all of its associated costs, that can be an additional barrier to overcome. That’s especially the case for young athletes.

That’s a void that the Dave Aitchison SportsAid Fund and it’s iconic fundraising event, the Legs Of Steel – a challenging bike ride around the Surrey Hills, near London – has attempted to fill over the past 15 years, during which it has distributed more than 180 individual Grants to talented athletes in the London and South East areas, with fast approaching £190,000 being distributed to date.

None other than Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold and silver medallist, Alex Yee, credits the Fund’s support as essential on his journey to the top of the sport:

The Dave Aitchison SportsAid Fund opened the doors to countless opportunities which, without it, I wouldn’t be standing in the position I am today.

Alex Yee, on the impact of the Dave Aitchison Fund

Tragedy to legacy: supporting the next generation

A member of Ful-on Tri club in London, Dave Aitchison was a rising star of British triathlon and a hugely popular figure, both within his club and the triathlon community. In January 2007, at just 29 years of age, Dave died suddenly in his sleep.

The Dave Aitchison SportsAid Fund was created by Dave’s family and Ful-on Tri club in his memory, to continue his legacy by supporting talented young triathletes in the London and South East regions.

Dave Aitchison
Dave Aitchison winning the London Duathlon

Dave’s coach was Bill Black, who reflecting on his time working with a young man that brought joy and laughter to everyone around him, says: “Dave had all the attributes of an elite professional athlete yet was extremely modest and possessed the ability to switch off and be mischievous and funny.”

The Surrey Legs of Steel

In addition to individual donations, to create sustainability the Fund needed an event from which profits could provide revenue to operate the SportsAid Fund. Very quickly the Surrey Legs of Steel idea was born, with the challenging Surrey Hills course in recognition of Dave’s prestigious cycling ability.

Support the next generation of triathletes

If you would like to support the next generation of triathletes there are two ways to donate funds to the Dave Aitchison SportsAid Fund.

#1 – DONATE ONLINE

Surrey Legs of Steel

Donating to the Dave Aitchison Fund through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to make a donation.

#2 – Enter the legs of steel

Surrey Legs of Steel

Test your legs through the stunning Surrey Hills and explore some of the most iconic climbs on this challenging cycle sportive on 24 September.

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Making a difference

As far back as 2013, when he had no other funding support at the time, Alex Yee received his first support from the Dave Aitchison Fund. Through his continued sporting progression and the support of donations to the Fund, plus profits raised by the Legs of Steel event, he was able to receive grant support for the next four years. That ultimately saw him reach British Triathlon’s Olympic performance pathway, and he would develop into the global star we all know today.

“The Dave Aitchison SportsAid Fund opened the doors to countless opportunities which, without it, I wouldn’t be standing in the position I am today. The support of the Dave Aitchison SportsAid Fund helped fund training camps, travel and entry fees. Triathlon is not the cheapest sport and I am extremely grateful to the Trust for supporting my journey.”

Alex Yee as a youngster and winning Olympic gold in Tokyo

A very young Alex Yee & him winning Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020

Who else has the Dave Aitchison fund supported?

Following the first Legs of Steel event in 2007, and the formal establishment of the Dave Aitchison SportsAid Fund in 2008, to date more than £180,000 has been distributed in Grant Awards to talented young athletes to allow them to pursue their triathlon ambitions.

Alumni include athletes such as Faye McLelland (who represented Great Britain at the 2016 Paralympic Games), Kieran Lindars (second this past weekend at the European Long Distance Championship in Almere) and Bethany Cook, who was part of the Great Britain team that finished second last year at the U23-Junior Mixed Team Relay World Championships.

In total, more than 180 individual Grant Award have been made over the past 15 years.

Surrey Legs of Steel - Dave's athletes
Previous Grant recipients supporting the Legs of Steel event
John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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